# Seems like a lot looser games in low/middle limit hold'em

March 27, 2018 3:00 AM
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Playing low/middle limit Texas hold’em, lately there seems to be more raising preflop, and players are much looser. Have you noticed that, too? I’m not sure why this has happened; perhaps because more younger players are getting involved in the game. More to the point, all that raising makes it costlier to stay to see the flop. Let’s explore how you might best play in such cases.

Assigned to such an aggressive table, you might request a table change. But, chances are the “new” table won’t be much different: Too many raises preflop – too costly to play. Go home? You came to the casino to play, so you aren’t about to turn around and drive back home.

Perhaps the best solution is entailed in your starting hand selection. Increase your requirements to enhance your chances of winning the pot. Fold marginal drawing hands that barely meet or slightly exceed the criteria of the Hold’em Algorithm.

After a raise preflop, quite often I find myself asking, “can my hand stand another raise?” In the Big Blind, I am willing to take a shot at a single raise so the cost is just one more small bet. Look to your left to see if an opponent is getting ready to re-raise. On the other hand, after even a single raise before the flop, I am inclined to muck my hole cards from the Small Blind unless they comfortably exceed the minimum starting hand criteria using Epstein’s Hold’em Algorithm.

Most of your hole cards will be drawing hands that must improve on the flop to warrant further investment. Odds are about 2-to-1 against you. On average, you can expect to improve on the flop just one out of three times.

Use the Hold’em Caveat. It requires a multiway pot (three or more opponents calling the raise) and no further raises to pay to see the flop. Note: You might do the re-raising when you hold a made hand preflop (A-A, K-K, or Q-Q). In that case, your re-raise would be a value bet intended to build the pot and/or thin the field. (You become an underdog if four or more opponents stay to see the flop.) Plus, your re-raise also makes your opponents more cautious, and less likely to bet into you after the flop, giving you considerable control over the subsequent playing of the hand.

A case in point: In a late position, you have been dealt pocket Kings – one of the three made hands before the flop. The odds are about 110-to-1 against being dealt A-A or K-K; so, try to make the most of it. Your best strategy is to raise the pot before the flop to thin the field. Knowing your chance to improve to a set is about 8-to-1 against you, ideally you would like to play this hand against no more than three opponents.

What you most fear is an Ace falling on the board; then your pocket Kings may be in big trouble. Should that happen, if an opponent comes out betting, it would be wise to be cautious. Ask yourself what type of player is he? If he is tight, chances are he has you beat. It’s hard to fold a big pocket pair, but that might be the wise decision. (I tend to “believe” tight players when they raise.) On the other hand, call a loose-aggressive opponent; such players often are also deceptive.